Artist: Julien Baker
Album: Turn Out the Lights
Release date: October 27, 2017
Label: Matador Records
Turn Out the Lights, second full-length studio album from Memphis-based singer-songwriter Julien Baker, is an early November walk through your favorite park, when the very last flowers are dying off for the season, but everything is still unspeakably beautiful.
The music in Turn Out the Lights is understated -- soft, lyrical guitar, strings, and piano with no blatant melody, designed to be a foundation for the vocals, which are the centerpiece of each song. Baker's vocals balance between breathy and clear, always starkly honest and raw. This creates a very strong storytelling tone to the individual tracks and the album as whole.
The songs themselves are like warm knit sweaters: cozy and comforting when you're feeling down, but with the potential to be stifling when you're not. Regardless, the lyrics are so confessional, and so relatable to those who have struggled or struggle with depression, with lines like "When I turn out the lights / There's no one left / Between myself and me" ("Turn Out the LIghts"), "The harder I swim, the faster I sink" ("Sour Breath") and "But there's a comfort in failure / Singing too loud in church / Screaming my fears into speakers / 'Till I collapse or I burst / Whichever comes first" ("Shadowboxing").
Baker also has a talent for painting scenes with incredible particularity: "But I shouldn't have built a house in the middle of your chest / Plywood boards joined at your breast / Splinter in my arm where you rest your head / Checking my watch till you come to bed / Kiss me goodnight with your sour breath" ("Sour Breath").
Turn Out the Lights is an excellent second album, with obvious growth from Baker's first album in both lyrical strength and vocal clarity.
Turn Out the Lights is available on Spotify.